Under the Janesville School District’s proposed budget, district residents will pay less in school taxes this school year.
The school board got its first look at the draft budget for 2017-18 on Tuesday.
The district’s projected expenses for this school year will be about $127.6 million, up about $8 million from last year.
But a variety of factors, primarily economic growth, will make taxes lower if the board approves the budget.
The proposed tax levy will result in school-related taxes of $866 on a home assessed at $100,000. Last year, school taxes on the same home were $963. That’s a decrease of almost 10 percent.
The primary difference between the two years?
Property values in the Janesville area increased by almost $300 million, said Keith Pennington, chief financial officer for the school district.
A larger tax base means individual taxpayers will shoulder less of the burden.
In addition, the amount of spending paid for by tax dollars is down. Last year, total school-related taxes were $36.97 million. This year, the proposed tax levy is $36.14 million.
Comparing last year’s and this year’s operating budgets could create a skewed vision of costs.
Last year’s operating budget was $119.7 million. This year’s is $126.6 million. The largest spending increase, about $8.2 million, comes from increases in Act 32 spending, Pennington said.
Act 32 is the state law that allows schools to raise taxes beyond state-imposed revenue caps to pay for safety and energy-efficiency improvements.
Revenue caps limit the amount of money a district can raise through its tax levy. If more money is needed, the district must go to referendum to ask voters for permission to exceed the caps. Act 32 makes it possible to bypass a referendum to complete specific types of projects.
In the Janesville School District’s case, the money will be used to replace aging boilers, improve circulation and provide humidification in several schools.
Salaries make up about 56 percent of the proposed operating budget, and benefits are another 18.5 percent. Both percentages are down slightly from last year.
The budget cannot be finalized until the district receives its official aid numbers from the state, and that won’t be until Friday.
The board will approve the final budget and make any changes at its Oct. 24 meeting.
In other business, the board heard a report on district enrollment, which is down 113 students.
In a memo to the school board, Director of Pupil Services Kimberli Peerenboom wrote that enrollment “currently aligns with demographic data associated with the city of Janesville.”